While it’s been a while since I’ve posted a career-related poll here on my blog, I’m kind of glad I waited, since I always found the WordPress poll application to be extremely tricky to use — versus the wonderful new option I’ve discovered, which is to use the LinkedIn Polls tool to create and distribute these kinds of surveys!  If you haven’t checked out the LinkedIn Polls application previously, just visit your main LinkedIn page, go to the “More” menu on the top navigation bar, and you’ll see there’s now a “Polls” option down there near the end of the list, just waiting for you to take advantage of it!

The benefits of the LinkedIn polling route, versus others?  For starters, it’s incredibly simple and user-friendly.  Secondly, the resulting data chart looks terrific and the results can be sorted in various ways by age, gender, job title, and other variables to analyze the data and turn up some interesting anomalies.  And lastly, since there’s little point in casting a survey out there and having only three people weigh in on it, your polls on LinkedIn can be shared beyond your own network (if you choose to) and be accessible to the entire LinkedIn community, which will greatly increase your response rate.

At any rate, for my maiden voyage of this new tool, I lobbed a question out there that asked:

“What do you feel the toughest internal issue is that people have to overcome when searching for work in today’s market?”

The five response choices were:

1) The sense of isolation
2) Accountability and maintaining momentum
3) The stigma/embarrassment of unemployment
4) Reduced self-confidence
5) Lack of knowledge in modern (job hunting) methods.

To date, I’ve had 35 people cast their votes on these choices so far, and while it’s going to be pretty hard for you to read the full chart below, given the layout limitations of my blog, you can click here to either vote or access the full set of results.

The Analysis? In my opinion, the respondees nailed it.  While each of the five issues raised can present a real obstacle to professionals seeking their next position, I think self-confidence issues represent the true “headwaters” behind most career malaise and are most responsible for holding the majority of people back in their efforts.  In the face of the tough economy, the ongoing cycle of depressing news stories, and the ridiculously overblown requirements of most published job advertisements, it can be awfully difficult to feel 100% sure about yourself when pitching your credentials to an employer.  And if you’re not perfectly clear about your career path to begin with — or have been through a recent layoff or termination event — your confidence is going to be shaken even further.  So at the end of the day, while there are plenty of tactical issues related to job hunting that can present problems, as well, I think the most pressing challenge for most individuals is to keep their chin up and find ways to maintain their faith in themselves, despite the setbacks, shenanigans, and negative news stories that are an inescapable part of the process these days.

One other thing: if you find the above question intriguing, I’d encourage you to take things a step farther, and not only read the comments below the poll itself — but also try clicking on the “By Job Title, By Company Size, By Job Function, etc.” options on the left side of the survey, since (as one of my commenters, Wendy Grover, pointed out) there are some pretty interesting discrepancies when you look at how issues like the “stigma of unemployment” are viewed by people from different genders and different age groups!  Again, the Gallup organization has nothing to fear, but the ability to easily create and analyze poll questions like this is pretty darn cool.

Which brings us to my next question.  I just created a new poll on my LinkedIn profile (click here to cast your vote) that asks the question: “What do you think the most effective step would be to reduce the unemployment rate in this country?”